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SAFETY SEATS FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES SECRETARY SLATER, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL PROMOTE CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY IN LOS ANGELES

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American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

SAFETY SEATS FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES SECRETARY SLATER, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL PROMOTE CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY IN LOS ANGELES

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
March 27, 1997

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 27, 1997
Contact:  Tim Hurd
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

LOS ANGELES -- U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater, along with California safety officials, today stressed the importance of child safety seats -- and using them properly -- as he donated seats to low-income Los Angeles families with young children.

Joining Secretary Slater at the Community Build Training Center on South Vermont Avenue were representatives of the California Highway Patrol, the Governor's Office of Traffic Safety and SafetyBeltSafe USA. Prior to the child safety seat distribution the parents must complete a one-hour instructional course on how to use the car seats properly.

"President Clinton has made safety his top transportation priority. Unfortunately, the number-one cause of traumatic death and injury among children ages 1-16 is motor vehicle crashes. Child safety seats can save many lives, but they must be available and used properly," Secretary Slater said. "As Secretary of Transportation, I am committed to significantly reducing the number of children injured and killed in motor vehicle accidents every year. This program and the proper use of seat belts and car seats is the best way we can achieve real results in this effort."

The section 402 safety grant program of the department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) includes funding to purchase child safety seats for qualifying low-income families. Last year, the California Highway Patrol distributed 10,000 seats under the program. Also, as part of a 1994 consent order with General Motors, an additional 200,000 child safety seats are currently being distributed to low-income families.

All states have laws requiring the use of child safety seats, but some studies have shown that at least 80 percent of the seat are improperly installed. Federal, state and local organizations are working with industry sponsors to promote the safe transportation of children. Secretary Slater said these child safety efforts exemplify the partnerships that DOT has promoted to reduce the traumatic and economic costs of traffic crashes.

Secretary Slater noted that the event also will showcase an important resource provided through the California child restraint law. Some of the fines collected from violators of the child restraint law go into a fund for education and child safety seats in the county where the violations occurred. The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has contracts with five community-based organizations to provide these programs.

NHTSA officials said California enacted its child seat law in 1983 and the current use rate -- 86 percent -- is the highest in the United States. During 1995, vehicle crashes killed 58 California children in the 0-3 year old age group and injured 3,766. Nine of the children killed were restrained in car seats and 49 were unrestrained. Of the injured, 2,120 were in car seats and 1,646 were unrestrained.



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